|Publication number||US7826125 B2|
|Application number||US 11/451,055|
|Publication date||2 Nov 2010|
|Filing date||12 Jun 2006|
|Priority date||14 Jun 2005|
|Also published as||US20070002413|
|Publication number||11451055, 451055, US 7826125 B2, US 7826125B2, US-B2-7826125, US7826125 B2, US7826125B2|
|Inventors||Demetri Psaltis, Allen Pu|
|Original Assignee||California Institute Of Technology|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (13), Non-Patent Citations (8), Referenced by (2), Classifications (5), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is related to and claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 from prior provisional application Ser. No. 60/690,202, which was filed Jun. 14, 2005.
A field of the invention is displays. The invention provides a general purpose display device that is suitable for both large and small displays, such as those required by televisions, computer monitors, handsets, medical devices, etc.
Demand for flat panel displays is driven by a number of markets, including small and large consumer electronics applications, military applications, medical applications, handheld device applications, etc. Flat panel display sales have surged. The flat panel display market in 2004 was estimated by some to be a $62.2 billion market. Some expect this market to grow past $100 billion in a few years. In 2004, liquid crystal digital (LCD) displays accounted for about 78% of the $62.2B market.
Flat panel displays have obvious aesthetic and physical advantages compared to tube displays. Additionally, the picture quality in flat panel displays, e.g., plasma and liquid crystal digital displays has increased since the introduction of these technologies. Ongoing improvements in resolution and picture quality are being made, while the cost of flat panel displays continues to decrease.
In an LCD display, the positioning of a liquid crystal molecule column affects the polarization of light in a pixel. Each pixel in a display typically includes three sub-pixels. Each sub sub-pixel typically has one of three primary color filters (red, green or blue) and a black matrix. The display is backlit by a light source. Top and bottom polarizers are intended to block light when a sub pixel is “off”, and pass light to various degrees through the color filter when the electronics position the liquid crystal to polarize the backlight and permit it to pass through the color filter.
The LCD display model, while generally favored for low power, has some inherent drawbacks. The model relies upon two polarizer layers, which block a significant amount of light produced by the backlight. In the process of polarizing the light, the polarizer layer closest to the backlight blocks at least 50% of the light. Therefore, a large amount of electrical power is wasted to boost the light output from the backlight in order to produce a bright display. In portable electronics, e.g., laptop computers, personal digital assistants, and handsets, reducing the power consumption of the display remains important. The display, often an LCD display, remains the biggest single power draw in a typical portable electronic device.
Contrast, brightness and viewing angles are also issues in LCD displays. The relative lack of contrast and lack of brightness in LCD displays is attributable to the polarizer layers required by LCD displays. When a particular colored sub pixel is “on”, the polarizer layers permit the light to pass through the color filter and be emitted from the display, but the polarization filters portions of the available light and therefore substantially reduces the brightness of the light passing through. On the other hand, when a particular color sub pixel is “off”, the polarizer layers are intended to black the backlight, but effectively dim it to a great extent. An amount of light can be perceived as passing through the sub-pixel, reducing both the black levels and contrast ratios achievable with the LCD.
Recently, Philips has been researching and prototyping a different type of display, based upon the electrowetting principle. In the Philips prototype displays, electrowetting is used to move a colored oil layer away from a white background. The oil covers a hydrophobic layer, separating it from a water layer on top. Interaction of the oil, water, and the hydrophobic layer is controlled by an electric field. Application of an electric field across the layers causes water to contact the hydrophobic layer, displacing the oil, and the colored pixel is replaced by a white background.
Electrowetting is being researched by Philips and others, and various electrowetting display models have been published. U.S. Pat. No. 6,700,556, to Richley et al., entitled Display Sheet with Stacked Electrode Structure, discloses a display having alternating conducting and non-conducting sheets with fluid reservoirs. The reservoirs communicate with each other through apertures. Applying a field across selected apertures causes liquid to be pumped from one reservoir into the other, altering or producing a display based upon the position of the liquid. U.S. Pat. No. 5,956,005 to Sheridon, entitled Electrocapillary Display Sheet Which Utilizes an Applied Electric Field to Move a Liquid Inside the Display Sheet, also uses fluid movement between reservoirs for display effects.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,034,444 to Kawanami et. al., entitled Display Element and Display Device Having It, makes use of electronic control of liquid to focus or defocus light toward holes in a mask layer. In the '444 patent, first and second liquids are confined in a space between substrates. One of the liquids interacts with a patterned surface treatment layer. Under control of an electric field, the first liquid is controlled to have its contact angle with the patterned surface treatment layer changed. Light passing through the liquid is focused or not focused toward a corresponding small hole in the mask layer depending upon the contact angle of the first liquid.
U.S. Published application 2004/0196525 to Fujii et al, entitled Display Device discloses the use of fluid to either color or block light to produce a display. In the '525 application, a droplet of a coloring liquid is sealed in a cavity and controlled with an electric field to color or block light.
A light conductive controlled shape droplet display device of the invention includes a light source. A light conductive substrate receives and conducts light from the light source. A cover disposed relative to the substrate, conducts light received from the substrate out and away from the display device. Pixels in the display are defined by fluid droplets in optical communication with the substrate and the cover. Hydrophobic layers associated with the substrate and the cover control the shape of the fluid droplet in conjunction with properties of the fluid droplet. Persistent displays are possible, as are displays that require periodic refresh to maintain the display. Electrodes modulate the amount of light conducted by the fluid droplets from the substrate into the cover. In preferred embodiments, each pixel includes sub-pixels formed by different primary colored fluid droplets.
The invention provides a display device. A display device of the invention produces displays by controlling the shape and, in some embodiments the position, of fluid droplets using the electrowetting effect. The display includes an array of pixels, each having, for example, three sub pixels. In an individual pixel or sub pixel, a fluid droplet serves as an electrically controlled waveguide between a light guiding substrate and a display cover. The shape/position of the fluid droplet is controlled its fluid properties, by hydrophobic properties of layers that it contacts, and applied voltage. In preferred embodiments, the amount of light conducted through the fluid droplet depends on the shape of the fluid, permitting use of the shape to achieve a full range of light modulation in the pixel(s) or sub-pixel(s). In other embodiments, droplet position is used in addition to droplet shape to achieve a full range of light modulation.
A preferred embodiment light conductive controlled shape droplet display device of the invention includes a light source. A light conductive substrate receives and conducts light from the light source. A cover disposed relative to the substrate conducts light received from the substrate out and away from the display device. Pixels in the display are defined by fluid droplets in optical communication with the substrate and the cover. Hydrophobic layers associated with the substrate and the cover control the shape of the fluid droplet in conjunction with properties of the fluid droplet. Persistent displays are possible, as are displays that require periodic refresh to maintain the display. Electrodes modulate the amount of light conducted by the fluid droplets from the substrate into the cover. In preferred embodiments, each pixel includes sub-pixels formed by different primary colored fluid droplets.
Preferred embodiments will now be discussed with reference to the figures. Schematic illustrations will be fully understood by artisans. Artisans will also appreciate and understand that devices are not illustrated to scale, and features may be exaggerated for purposes of illustrating the invention.
Emissions from the sub pixels 12 a, 12 b and 12 c exit the display device 10 through a cover 22. Color filters can be used, or in other embodiments, the fluid droplets 14 a, 14 b and 14 c may also act as color filters in addition to providing the light conduction control that permits modulation of the display in a given pixel or sub-pixel. In the display device 10 shown in
In the display device 10, the contact angle F of each droplet 14 a, 14 b and 14 c is controlled by the potential between a common transparent electrode 24 and respective transparent electrode control lines 26 a, 26 b and 26 c. Hydrophobic layers 28, 30 contact the fluid droplets 14 a, 14 b and 14 c.
The fluid droplets 14 a, 14 b and 14 c, along with the hydrophobic layers 28 and 30, are selected to have appropriate viscosity and surface tension properties such that the droplets redirect light into the substrate 16 when no voltage is applied between respective electrode control lines 26 a, 26 b or 26 c and the common transparent electrode 24. This is the condition of the droplet 14 c in
Application of a voltage between a respective transparent electrode control line 26 a, 26 b or 26 c and the common transparent electrode 24 causes the angle F to decrease through the electrowetting effect. The reduction in the angle F between a droplet and the substrate 16 changes the shape of the droplet and makes it a better conductor of light to be seen from above the cover 22. The conduction of light is inversely proportional to the angle F, and accordingly increases as the voltage and angle F increase.
Voltage can be varied between no voltage and a maximum voltage to vary the intensity of light displayed by each sub pixel 12 a, 12 b and 12 c as seen from the top of the cover 22. The pixel 12 is easily replicated in a large format array, as artisans will appreciate. Accordingly, the structure of the display device and of
The hydrophobic layers 28 and 30 and the fluid properties of the droplets 14 a, 14 b, 14 c can be adjusted to have no display in a no voltage condition or to have a display in a no voltage condition. The display device 10 of
The hydrophobic layers 28 and 30 are not thick enough to provide electrical insulation in the
With respect to each droplet, the volume of fluid is constant, and the application of voltage causes a droplet to spread out more at the hydrophobic layer 30 associated with the cover 22, which pulls fluid away and decreases the angle that the droplet makes with the substrate 16. At maximum voltage, a droplet makes the smallest possible contact, as represented by the droplet 14 a in
The substrate 16 has a higher index of refraction than surrounding environment, so a portion of light generated by the light source 20 is confined within the substrate 16 by total internal reflection. When droplets 14 a, 14 b and 14 c having a refraction index higher than the surrounding environment optically contact the substrate 16, the droplet acts as a conductor of light from the substrate 16 to the cover 22, and the amount of light conducted depends upon the droplet shape.
In the path of light from the substrate 16 through the waveguide droplets 14 a, 14 b, 14 c and out the cover 22, there is no substantial reduction of brightness as is inherent to the polarization that is required in LCD displays. The front emitting nature of the display 10 of
Artisans will also recognize that various materials can be used to fabricate the display device 10 of
With the display device 10 of
One way of accomplishing this is to make the hydrophobic layer 30 less hydrophobic than the hydrophobic layer 28. Application of a potential between one of the dual electrodes 42 n, 44 n with respect to the common electrode 24 moves the droplet toward one of the electrodes 42 n, 44 n. In
In the display of
A variation of the
Structures can also be introduced into the substrate 16, as illustrated by the display device 56 shown in
Artisans will recognize many other variations consistent with the shape and, in some embodiments, position control of the exemplary display devices illustrated by the preferred embodiments. Artisans will recognize that standard micro fabrication and circuitry fabrication techniques can be used to form display devices of the invention. Fluid droplets may be positioned in a number of ways, including, for example, by ink jet printing techniques or by dipping patterned hydrophobic layers into solution. For example, the hydrophobic layers can be lithographically patterned with photoresist and developed. The unprotected hydrophobic material can be etched away either chemically or via plasma etching. Once the photoresist is removed, the hydrophobic layer will resemble the original lithographic mask, with precise areas covered by hydrophobic material. When dipped into a solution, areas without hydrophobic material will attract the solution and areas with hydrophobic material will repel the solution. This method allows droplets to assemble in precise locations across a large area quickly.
While various embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it should be understood that other modifications, substitutions and alternatives are apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art. Such modifications, substitutions and alternatives can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, which should be determined from the appended claims.
Various features of the invention are set forth in the following claims.
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|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US9563052 *||4 Apr 2014||7 Feb 2017||Amazon Technologies, Inc.||Support plate of an electrowetting display|
|US20140218785 *||4 Apr 2014||7 Aug 2014||Liquavista B.V.||Support plate of an electrowetting display|
|U.S. Classification||359/290, 359/291|
|8 Sep 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:PSALTIS, DEMETRI;PU, ALLEN;REEL/FRAME:018281/0659;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060608 TO 20060727
Owner name: CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:PSALTIS, DEMETRI;PU, ALLEN;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060608 TO 20060727;REEL/FRAME:018281/0659
|26 Apr 2011||CC||Certificate of correction|
|17 Apr 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4